Posts Tagged ‘why talk about what we are ashamed of’

I asked someone recently why they had kept something from me that would have been best to just get out sooner than they eventually did. I assumed it was because they knew that what they were doing was harmful,  but wanted to keep doing it anyway.

That may have been a part  of the motive for the secrecy — the motive of desiring to continue the guilty pleasure — but it wasn’t the main reason.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I finally asked, straight up.

“I was ashamed,” they said.

I can identify. We all keep stuff to ourselves that would be shameful to tell, if nothing else, some of our thoughts. This is normal, protective, even sometimes appropriate.

It’s just that some things need to come out to be recovered from. Some things need the light of day to remove the fear and guilt and shame and anger that remains when they are kept closeted in the dark.

Sharing a shameful thing can be freeing, theraputic, healing, especially if someone who had power over us coerced us into keeping it a secret. By speaking shameful things, we can sometimes defeat them.  By speaking about wrong, we can rob it of some of its power over us.

“There,” we can say when we have said it. “I said it!” It’s out! I don’t have to contain it, house it, let it rot in me, alone, anymore!”

By getting secret stuff out — wrong stuff that really happened — we begin to take control again. By speaking the truth, by refusing to keep dirty-little required secrets, by saying what we did worng or what someone else did wrong, we expose mold to light; we expose disease to medicine, we cure harm. And even more, we recieve the support of those who understand, who have gone through a similar thing, who get us.

Yes, some people will get angry when others speak the truth, some will say it isn’t true even when it is, some will condemn an exposé as being unkind or inappropriate or as showing  unforgiveness or being vengeful. What should we make of that? Well, a vindictive “getting back” at people does sometimes happen, and that can be a harmful thing in itself, certaintly if the things said are not true, but we must be careful not to condemn victims for wanting justice.

When all is said and done on earth,  there will, I believe, have been too many dark secrets, not enough truth, and not enough exposure of abuse and harm. And when people who have done wrong are exposed, the shame  or embarrassment that they experience — they brought that on themselves. Being exposed as harmful is the natural consequence and social punishment for having been harmful.

For those who speak the secret shames others have forced them to keep in the dark — or tell things they have done and themselves have harmfully supressed — I approve of the honesty. Jesus himself advocated honesty saying the truth would set us free, and he predicted that hidden wrong will be exposed, and that what has been whispered in an ear will be shouted from a rooftop.

I applaud the bravery within openness, and I uphold and support everywhere the commitment to take back the parts of our lives that have been stolen from us.

Talking — it’s a shame cure.